Duke 69, BC 58

BC women undone by Duke's pressure

By Kate Crandall
Globe Correspondent / February 3, 2009
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DURHAM, N.C. - The Duke women's basketball team used stretch-run defense to earn a 69-58 win over Boston College last night at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

The Eagles, who trailed by 16 at the half, cut No. 4 Duke's lead to 6 with 2:14 left. But the Blue Devils' Abby Waner, who had six steals, nailed a 3-pointer from the corner to keep BC at bay.

The loss snapped the Eagles' four-game winning streak and was only their second in 11 games.

"I thought in the first half we played scared," said BC coach Sylvia Crawley. "It took us almost a whole half to settle down and play hard."

Duke (18-2, 6-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) rebounded from its first ACC loss, against Florida State last Thursday, to move into a first-place tie with the Seminoles.

"We were very eager," said forward Carrem Gay. "We really focused on putting that game behind us and moving on to Boston College."

Gay teamed with center Chante Black to wear down BC's low-post duo of Carolyn Swords and Stefanie Murphy in the first half.

The Blue Devils' inside presence - forward Joy Cheek (10 points) was yet another option - and a swarming full-court press helped create 16 points off BC's 15 first-half turnovers.

"Having three posting, experienced players, we had mismatches all the way around," Black said. "So we were bound to get some good shots off and second chances."

Gay, who finished 7 for 8, hit all five of her first-half shots to take some pressure off Black, who has reached double digits in all 20 games this season.

With 2:22 left in the first half, the Blue Devils used a 7-2 run to take a 37-21 lead at halftime.

The Eagles (17-3, 5-2) were just 1 of 6 from 3-point range in the first half.

Duke's full-court press threatened to put the game out of reach early in the second.

Flustered by the double- and triple-team pressure, sophomore point guard Jaclyn Thoman turned over the ball on three consecutive possessions and was replaced by senior Victoria Jones.

The Blue Devils took a 52-34 lead at 13:01 when point guard Jasmine Thomas converted Waner's no-look pass.

The play of Jones helped spark BC's comeback bid, as did a defensive switch to zone.

"We did some good things in our press to make them rush and make some bad decisions," Crawley said.

Fouled on a fast break, Jones hit both free throws to draw the Eagles within 11 with less than 10 minutes to play.

Duke settled into half-court possessions to use the clock and find Black inside, but BC kept coming.

BC guard Mickel Picco, who hit just three shots in the first half, scored 10 of her 18 points in the final six minutes.

"We put her deep, and that took off some of their pressure because they have to worry about her in the corner because she's a good shooter," Crawley said.

The Eagles closed within 6 twice in the final four minutes, but Duke forward Karima Christmas came up with key offensive rebounds, and Waner's steals stymied BC's late charge.

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